Warner Music Group
Overview
 
Warner Music Group is the third largest business group
Business group
A corporate group is a collection of parent and subsidiary corporations that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control. The concept of a group is frequently used in tax law, accounting and company law to attribute the rights and duties of one member of the group to...

 and family of record label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

s in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies. For three decades the conglomerate was known as WEA, which stood for Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

-Elektra
Elektra Records
Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009....

-Atlantic
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

 Records; three major record companies that signed and developed musical acts and, in turn, distributed product for subsidiaries and other record labels.

The current incarnation of the company as Warner Music Group was formed in 2004 when it was spun off
Spin out
A spin-out, also known as a spin-off or a starburst, refers to a type of corporate action where a company "splits off" sections of itself as a separate business....

 and made completely separate from Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

; as a result Time Warner no longer retains any ownership whatsoever in the Warner Music Group, despite its name.
Encyclopedia
Warner Music Group is the third largest business group
Business group
A corporate group is a collection of parent and subsidiary corporations that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control. The concept of a group is frequently used in tax law, accounting and company law to attribute the rights and duties of one member of the group to...

 and family of record label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

s in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies. For three decades the conglomerate was known as WEA, which stood for Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

-Elektra
Elektra Records
Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009....

-Atlantic
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

 Records; three major record companies that signed and developed musical acts and, in turn, distributed product for subsidiaries and other record labels.

The current incarnation of the company as Warner Music Group was formed in 2004 when it was spun off
Spin out
A spin-out, also known as a spin-off or a starburst, refers to a type of corporate action where a company "splits off" sections of itself as a separate business....

 and made completely separate from Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

; as a result Time Warner no longer retains any ownership whatsoever in the Warner Music Group, despite its name. WMG also has a music publishing arm called Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. is an American music publishing company, and a division of the Warner Music Group. The company traces its origins back to 1811 and the founding of Chappell & Company, a music publishing company and instrument shop on London’s Bond Street that, in 1929, began a rapid...

 which is one of the world's largest music-publishing companies.

In May 2011, the company announced its sale to Access Industries
Access Industries
Access Industries is a privately held, U.S.-based industrial group founded in 1986 by its chairman, Len Blavatnik. Access’s industrial focus spans three sectors: natural resource and chemicals; media and telecommunications; and real estate...

, Inc. The purchase of the company was completed on July 20, 2011.

Key people

Edgar Bronfman Jr. – Chairman

Stephen Cooper
Stephen Cooper (businessman)
Stephen Cooper is the current CEO of Warner Music Group. He became CEO in August 2011 as Edgar Bronfman Jr. became Chairman. -Education:Cooper has an BA from Occidental College and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. -Career:...

 - CEO

Lyor Cohen
Lyor Cohen
Lyor Cohen is the North American Chairman and CEO of Recorded Music for Warner Music Group . He has been a pioneer in the development of hip hop music and influential in the development of hip hop music acts, including Beastie Boys, Foxy Brown, LL Cool J, Jam Master Jay, Nas, Run-D.M.C...

 – Vice Chairman and Chairman and CEO, Recorded Music  – Americas and the U.K.

David H. Johnson – Chairman and CEO, Warner/Chappell Music

Michael Fleisher (Michael D. Fleisher) – Vice Chairman, Strategy and Operations

Michael Nash
Michael Nash
Michael Nash is a media executive and visionary who most recently served as Warner Music Group's Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy and Business Development...

 – Executive Vice President, Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy and Business Development

1950s and 1960s

WMG is the only one of the big four record companies that cannot trace its ancestry to either Columbia Phonograph Company or Berliner Gramophone
Berliner Gramophone
Berliner Gramophone was an early record label, the first company to produce disc "gramophone records" .-History:...

. WMG's roots date back to the founding of Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

 in 1958 as a division of the Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 Pictures. Warner Bros. Pictures had no record label division at the time and one of its contracted actors, Tab Hunter
Tab Hunter
Tab Hunter is an American actor, singer, former teen idol and author who has starred in over forty major films.-Background:...

, scored a hit song for Dot Records
Dot Records
Dot Records was an American record label and company that was active between 1950 and 1977. It was founded by Randy Wood. In Gallatin, Tennessee, Wood had earlier started a mail order record shop, known for its radio ads on WLAC in Nashville and its R&B air personality Bill "Hoss" Allen...

 which was a division of rival Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

. In order to prevent any of its actors from recording for rival companies and to also capitalize on the music business, Warner Bros. Records was created. In 1963, Warner Bros. Records purchased Reprise Records
Reprise Records
Reprise Records is an American record label, founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra. It is owned by Warner Music Group, and operated through Warner Bros. Records.-Beginnings:...

, which had been founded by Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

 three years earlier so that he could have more creative control over his recordings. With the Reprise acquisition, Warner gained the services of Mo Ostin
Mo Ostin
Mo Ostin is a record executive who has worked for several companies, including Verve, Reprise Records, Warner Bros. Records, and DreamWorks. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 by Paul Simon, Neil Young, and Lorne Michaels...

 who would be most responsible for the success of Warner/Reprise.

The Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 unit was opened in 1967 as Warner Reprise Canada Ltd, now called Warner Music Canada
Warner Music Canada
Warner Music Canada is the Canadian division of Warner Music Group. The label previously operated as WEA Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of WEA International, which later changed its name to Warner Music International in 1990. It was founded in 1967 as Warner Reprise Canada Ltd...

 Co.

After Warner Bros. was sold to Seven Arts Productions
Seven Arts Productions
Seven Arts Productions was founded in 1957 by Ray Stark and Eliot Hyman. The company was a frequent producer of movies for other studios, including The Misfits for United Artists, Gigot for Twentieth Century-Fox, Lolita for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Is Paris Burning? for Paramount Pictures.Over...

 in 1967 (forming Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts was formed in 1967 and became defunct in 1970, when Seven Arts Productions acquired Jack Warner's controlling interest in Warner Bros. for $32 million and merged with it. The deal also included Warner Bros. Records, Reprise Records and the B&W Looney Tunes library...

), it purchased Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

, founded in 1947 and WMG's oldest label, as well as its subsidiary Atco Records
Atco Records
ATCO Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, currently operating through WMG's Rhino Entertainment.-Beginnings:Atco Records was founded in 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records. It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic's founders, Herb Abramson, who...

. This acquisition brought Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

 into the company fold, initially as a member of Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield is a North American folk rock band renown both for its music and as a springboard for the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and Jim Messina. Among the first wave of North American bands to become popular in the wake of the British invasion, the group combined...

. Young would become one of Warner's longest-established artists, recording as a solo artist, and with some groups, under the Warner-owned Atlantic, Atco, and Reprise labels, as well as five albums for Geffen Records
Geffen Records
Geffen Records is an American record label, owned by Universal Music Group, and operated as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-Beginnings:...

 during that label's period of Warner distribution. The Geffen catalogue, now owned by Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

, represents Young's only major recordings not under WMG ownership.

In 1969, two years after being purchased by Seven Arts, the Warner Bros.-Seven Arts company was sold to the Kinney National Company
Kinney National Company
Kinney National Services, Inc. was formed in 1966 when the Kinney Parking Company and the National Cleaning Company merged. The new company was headed by Steve Ross....

. Kinney (later changing its name to Warner Communications) combined the operations of all of its record labels, and Kinney CEO Steve Ross led the group through its most successful period until his death in 1994.

An earlier attempt by Warner Bros. Records to create an in-house distribution arm in 1958 didn't materialize. So in 1969, Elektra Records
Elektra Records
Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009....

 boss Jac Holzman
Jac Holzman
Jac Holzman was the founder, chief executive officer and head of both Elektra Records and Nonesuch Records.-Biography:He founded Elektra Records in his St. John's College dorm room in 1950 and Nonesuch Records in 1964...

 approached Atlantic's Jerry Wexler with the idea of setting up a joint distribution network for Warner, Elektra, and Atlantic. An experimental branch was established in Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

 as a possible prototype for an expanded operation. Also in the summer of '69, Atlantic Records agreed to assist Warner Bros. in establishing overseas divisions, but some rivalry between the labels was still a factor —when Warner executive Phil Rose arrived in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 to begin setting up an Australian subsidiary, he discovered that only one week earlier Atlantic had signed a new four-year distribution deal with Australian label Festival Records
Festival Records (Australia)
Festival Records was an Australian music recording and publishing company which was founded in Sydney in 1952 and operated until 2005....

.

During the 1970s, the Warner group built up a commanding position in the music industry. In 1970, it bought Elektra (founded by Holzman in 1950) for $10 million, bringing in leading rock acts including The Doors
The Doors
The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger...

, Tim Buckley
Tim Buckley
Timothy Charles Buckley III was an American vocalist, and musician. His music and style changed considerably through the years; his first album was mostly folk oriented, but over time his music incorporated jazz, psychedelia, funk, soul, avant-garde and an evolving "voice as instrument," sound...

, and Love
Love (band)
Love was an American rock group of the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were led by singer/songwriter Arthur Lee and lead guitarist Johnny Echols...

 and its historically significant folk archive along with the successful budget Western classical-music
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 label Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Records.-Company history:Nonesuch was founded in 1964 by Jac Holzman to produce "fine records at the same price as a trade paperback", which would be half the price of a normal LP...

. The same year, the group established its first overseas offices in Canada and Australia. By that time the "Seven Arts" moniker was dropped from the Warner Bros. name. By late 1972, US anti-trust laws had changed and the company was renamed WEA Corp. (from the first letter of each of the three main record companies; Warner Bros, Elektra, and Atlantic). Warner Bros. also started the Casablanca Records
Casablanca Records
Casablanca Records was an American record label started by Neil Bogart, who partnered with Cecil Holmes, Larry Harris, and Buck Reingold in 1973, and based in Los Angeles. The label was formed after all of them had left Buddah Records and secured financing by Warner Bros. Records to start the venture...

 subsidiary, headed by Neil Bogart
Neil Bogart
Neil Bogart was an American record executive. He is perhaps best known as the founder of Casablanca Records, with Peter Guber....

; but several years later Casablanca would become independent of Warner Bros.

Atlantic, its subsidiary Atco Records
Atco Records
ATCO Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, currently operating through WMG's Rhino Entertainment.-Beginnings:Atco Records was founded in 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records. It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic's founders, Herb Abramson, who...

, and its affiliate Stax Records
Stax Records
Stax Records is an American record label, originally based in Memphis, Tennessee.Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and...

 paved the way for Warner's rise to industry prominence. The purchase brought in Atlantic's lucrative back-catalogue, which included classic recordings by Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

, The Drifters
The Drifters
The Drifters are a long-lived American doo-wop and R&B/soul vocal group with a peak in popularity from 1953 to 1963, though several splinter Drifters continue to perform today. They were originally formed to serve as Clyde McPhatter's backing group in 1953...

, The Coasters
The Coasters
The Coasters are an American rhythm and blues/rock and roll vocal group that had a string of hits in the late 1950s. Beginning with "Searchin'" and "Young Blood", their most memorable songs were written by the songwriting and producing team of Leiber and Stoller...

, and many more. In the mid Sixties, Atlantic/Stax released a string of landmark soul music
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

 recordings by artists including Booker T & the MGs, Sam & Dave
Sam & Dave
Sam & Dave were an American soul and rhythm and blues duo who performed together from 1961 through 1981. The tenor voice was Samuel David Moore , and the baritone/tenor voice was Dave Prater .Sam & Dave are members of...

, Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett was an American R&B/Soul singer and songwriter.A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which made the US R&B charts, and frequently crossed over to the US Billboard Hot 100...

, Otis Redding
Otis Redding
Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was an American soul singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout. He is considered one of the major figures in soul and R&B...

, Ben E. King
Ben E. King
Benjamin Earl King , better known as Ben E. King, is an American soul singer. He is perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me", a U.S...

, and Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin
Aretha Louise Franklin is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Although known for her soul recordings and referred to as The Queen of Soul, Franklin is also adept at jazz, blues, R&B, gospel music, and rock. Rolling Stone magazine ranked her atop its list of The Greatest Singers of All...

. But the sale led to Stax leaving the Atlantic fold because the new Warner owners insisted on keeping the rights to Stax recordings. However, Atlantic also moved decisively into rock and pop in the late 1960s and 1970s, signing major British and American acts including Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

, Cream
Cream (band)
Cream were a 1960s British rock supergroup consisting of bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker...

, Crosby Stills & Nash, Yes
Yes (band)
Yes are an English rock band who achieved worldwide success with their progressive, art, and symphonic style of rock music. Regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre, Yes are known for their lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art, and live stage sets...

, Average White Band, Faces
Faces (band)
Faces are an English rock band formed in 1969 by members of the Small Faces after Steve Marriott left that group to form Humble Pie...

, Dr John, King Crimson
King Crimson
King Crimson are a rock band founded in London, England in 1969. Often categorised as a foundational progressive rock group, the band have incorporated diverse influences and instrumentation during their history...

, Bette Midler
Bette Midler
Bette Midler is an American singer, actress, and comedian, also known by her informal stage name, The Divine Miss M. She became famous as a cabaret and concert headliner, and went on to star in successful and acclaimed films such as The Rose, Ruthless People, Beaches, and For The Boys...

, and Foreigner
Foreigner (band)
Foreigner is a British-American rock band, originally formed in 1976 by veteran English musicians Mick Jones and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm...

.

Atlantic exerts autonomy

It was soon apparent in 1969 that Atlantic/Atco president Ahmet Ertegün
Ahmet Ertegun
Ahmet Ertegün was a Turkish American musician and businessman, best known as the founder and president of Atlantic Records. He also wrote classic blues and pop songs and served as Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and museum...

 viewed Warner/Reprise president Mike Maitland as an antagonist. Maitland believed that, as vice-president in charge of the Warner-Seven Arts music division, he should have final say over all recording operations, and he further angered Ertegün by proposing that most of Atlantic's back-office functions (such as accounting and distribution) be combined with the existing departments at Warner/Reprise. In retrospect Ertegün clearly feared that Maitland would ultimately have more power than him and so he moved rapidly to secure his own position and remove Maitland.

Maitland had put off renegotiating the contracts of Joe Smith and Mo Ostin, the presidents of the Warner Bros. and Reprise labels, and this provided Ertegün with an effective means of undermining Matitland. When Wexler—now a major shareholder—found out about the contract issue he and Ertegün began pressuring Elliot Hyman to get Smith and Ostin under contract, ostensibly because they were worried that the two executives might move to rival labels—and in fact Ostin had received overtures from both the MGM and ABC labels.

In 1969, the wisdom of Hyman's investments was proved when Kinney National Services
Kinney National Company
Kinney National Services, Inc. was formed in 1966 when the Kinney Parking Company and the National Cleaning Company merged. The new company was headed by Steve Ross....

 purchased Warner-Seven Arts for $400 million—more than eight times what Hyman had paid for Warner/Reprise and Atlantic combined. From the base of his family's funeral parlour business, Kinney president Steve Ross had rapidly built the Kinney company into a profitable conglomerate with interests that included comic publishing, the Ashley-Famous
Ashley-Famous
Ashley-Famous was a talent agency started in 1951 by talent agent Ted Ashley. The agency had a successful 16 year run under that name and owner; it was responsible for many hit television shows and had several famous clients...

 talent agency, parking lots and cleaning services. Following the takeover, Warners' music group briefly adopted the 'umbrella' name Kinney Music, because U.S. anti-trust laws at the time prevented the three labels from trading as one; once resolved, Kinney rebadged the film and music group Warner Communications Inc.

Ross was primarily focused on rebuilding the company's ailing movie division and was happy to defer to the advice of the managers of the company's record labels, since he knew that the they were generating most of the group's profits. Ertegun's campaign against Maitland began in earnest that summer. Atlantic had agreed to help Warner Bros. in its efforts to establish its labels overseas, beginning with its soon-to-be-established Warner Bros. subsidiary in Australia, but when Warner executive Phil Rose arrived in Australia, he discovered that just one week earlier Atlantic had signed a new four-year distribution deal with a rival local label, Festival Records
Festival Records (Australia)
Festival Records was an Australian music recording and publishing company which was founded in Sydney in 1952 and operated until 2005....

 (owned by Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch
Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KSG is an Australian-American business magnate. He is the founder and Chairman and CEO of , the world's second-largest media conglomerate....

's News Limited
News Limited
News Limited is one of Australia's largest diversified media companies. The publicly listed company's interests span newspaper and magazine publishing, Internet, Pay TV, National Rugby League, market research, DVD and film distribution, and film and television production trading assets.News Limited...

). Mike Maitland complained bitterly to Kinney executive Ted Ashley
Ted Ashley
Ted Ashley was the chairman of the Warner Bros. film studio from 1969 to 1980.He was born in Brooklyn as Theodore Assofsky. At the age of 20 he started out as a William Morris agent...

, but to no avail – by this time Ertegun was poised to make his move against Maitland.

As he had with Hyman, Ertegun urged Steve Ross to extend Mo Ostin and Joe Smith's contracts, a recommendation Ross was happy to accept. Ostin however had received overtures from other companies including MGM Records
MGM Records
MGM Records was a record label started by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio in 1946, for the purpose of releasing soundtrack albums of their musical films. Later it became a pop label, lasting into the 1970s...

 and ABC Records
ABC Records
ABC Records was an American record label, founded in New York City in 1955 as ABC-Paramount Records. It originated as the main popular music label operated the Am-Par Record Corporation, the music subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company . ABC-Paramount Records' first president was Samuel H....

 and when he met with Ertegun in January 1970 and was offered Maitland's job, he was unwilling to re-sign immediately. In response, Ertegun broadly hinted that that Maitland's days were numbered and that he, Ertegun, was about to take over the recording division.

Ostin was understandably concerned that, if he accepted the position, the Warner Bros. staff would feel that he had stabbed Maitland in the back, but his attorney convinced him that Maitland's departure was inevitable, regardless of whether or not he accepted the post (succinctly advising him, "Don't be a schmuck"). On Sunday January 25, Ted Ashley went to Maitland's house to tell him he had been dismissed, and Maitland declined the offer of a job at the movie studio. One week later, Mo Ostin was named as the new President of Warner Bros. Records, with Joe Smith as his Executive Vice-President. Ertegun nominally remained the head of Atlantic, but since both Ostin and Smith owed their new positions to him, Ertegun was now the de facto head of the Warner music division. Maitland moved to MCA Records
MCA Records
MCA Records was an American-based record company owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group , of which MCA Records was still part. MCA Records was absorbed by Geffen Records in 2003...

 later that year and successfully consolidated MCA's labels which he couldn't do at Warner.

1970s

In 1970, Kinney paid $10 million for Jac Holzman's Elektra Records
Elektra Records
Elektra Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009....

 and its sister label Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Records.-Company history:Nonesuch was founded in 1964 by Jac Holzman to produce "fine records at the same price as a trade paperback", which would be half the price of a normal LP...

, and they eventually assembled the labels into a group known as Warner-Elektra-Atlantic, also called WEA for short, which was renamed Warner Music in 1991 (the word "group" was added after the formation of AOL Time Warner). With the Elektra acquisition, the next step was forming an in-house distribution arm for the co-owned labels. By this time, Warner-Reprise's frustrations with its current distributors had reached breaking point; Joe Smith (then Executive Vice-President of Warner Bros.) recalled that The Grateful Dead were breaking as a major act but the distributor was constantly out of stock of their albums. These circumstances facilitated the full establishment of the group's in-house distribution arm, initially called Kinney Records Distributing Corporation.

The purchase of Elektra-Nonesuch brought in more prestigious additions to the Warner catalogue including The Doors
The Doors
The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger...

, Judy Collins
Judy Collins
Judith Marjorie "Judy" Collins is an American singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records ; and for her social activism. She is an alumna of the University of Colorado.-Musical career:Collins was born and raised in Seattle, Washington...

, The Stooges
The Stooges
The Stooges are an American rock band from Ann Arbor, Michigan first active from 1967 to 1974, and later reformed in 2003...

 and Elektra's rich back catalogue of folk music as well as the renowned Nonesuch catalogue of classical and world music. Elektra founder Jac Holzman ran the label under Warners for two years, but by that time, he was by his own admission 'burnt out' after twenty years in the business. Kinney president Steve Ross subsequently appointed Holzman as part of a seven-person 'brains trust' tasked with investigating opportunities presented by new technologies, a role Holzman was eager to accept.

WEA was an early champion of the heavy metal
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

 style of rock music. Several heavy metal bands, including the three major pioneers Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

, Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath are an English heavy metal band, formed in Aston, Birmingham in 1969 by Ozzy Osbourne , Tony Iommi , Geezer Butler , and Bill Ward . The band has since experienced multiple line-up changes, with Tony Iommi the only constant presence in the band through the years. A total of 22...

, and Deep Purple
Deep Purple
Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they are considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although some band members believe that their music cannot be categorised as belonging to any one genre...

 were all signed to WEA's labels at least in the United States. Among the earliest American metal acts to be signed to WEA were Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper is an American rock singer, songwriter and musician whose career spans more than four decades...

, Montrose
Montrose (band)
Montrose was a California-based hard rock band. The band originally featured Ronnie Montrose on guitar and future solo artist and former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar...

, and Van Halen
Van Halen
Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. The band has enjoyed success since the release of its debut album, Van Halen, . As of 2007 Van Halen has sold 80 million albums worldwide and has had the most #1 hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart...

.

Up to this point the Warner owned record companies had relied on licensing deals with local record labels to manufacture, distribute and promote its products in other countries; concurrent with the establishment of its new distribution arm, the company now began establishing subsidiary divisions in other major markets, beginning with the creation of Warner Bros. Records Australia in 1970 and soon followed by branch offices in the UK, Europe and Japan. In July 1971 the new in-house distribution company was incorporated as Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Distributing Corp. (WEA) and branches were established in eight major US cities; Joel Friedman a one-time Billboard writer who had been the head of Warner's advertising/merchandising division in its early years, was appointed to head WEA's US domestic division, and Ahmet Ertegun's brother Nesuhi was appointed to oversee its international operations. Neshui Ertegun, a Turkish native, displayed a global perspective and independence from its U.S. counterpart by successfully promoting international acts in their target markets world wide. Ertegun headed WEA International until his retirement in 1987. A de facto committee of three senior marketing executives—Dave Glew from Atlantic, Ed Rosenblatt from Warner Bros. and Mel Posner from Elektra—oversaw the integration of each label's marketing and distribution through the new division, but each label continued to operated totally independently in A&R
A&R
Artists and repertoire is the division of a record label that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label.- Finding talent :...

 matters and also applied their own expertise in marketing and advertising.

On 1 July 1971, following the pattern set by similar joint ventures in Canada and Australia, the Warner labels entered into a partnership with the British arm of CBS Records
Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment ' is the second-largest global recorded music company of the "big four" record companies and is controlled by Sony Corporation of America, the United States subsidiary of Japan's Sony Corporation....

 to press and distribute Warner-Reprise product in the United Kingdom, although this was undertaken as a cooperative venture rather than a formally incorporated business partnership. The Billboard article that reported the new arrangement also noted that, despite their intense competition in the US market, CBS continued to press Warner-Reprise recordings in the USA. However the new UK arrangement was a major blow to Warner's previous British manufacturer Pye Records
Pye Records
Pye Records was a British record label. In its first incarnation, perhaps Pye's best known artists were Lonnie Donegan , Petula Clark , The Searchers , The Kinks , Sandie Shaw and Brotherhood of Man...

, for whom Warner-Reprise had been their largest account. With the scheduled addition of the UK rights to the Atlantic catalogue, which would revert to Kinney in early 1972, Billboard predicted that the Warner-CBS partnership would have a 25-30% share of the UK music market.

In April 1971, thanks mainly to the influence of Ahmet Ertegun, the Warner group announced a major coup with its acquisition of the worldwide rights to The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones , Ian Stewart , Mick Jagger , and Keith Richards . Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up...

' new label Rolling Stones Records
Rolling Stones Records
Rolling Stones Records is the record label formed by The Rolling Stones members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman in 1970, after their recording contract with Decca Records expired. They were first distributed in the United States by Atlantic Records subsidiary...

, following the expiration of the band's contract with Decca Records
Decca Records
Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

 and the acrimonious end to their business relationship with controversial former manager Allen Klein
Allen Klein
Allen Klein was an American businessman, talent agent and record label executive. His clients included The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.- The accountant :...

. Under the terms of the deal, Atlantic subsidiary Atco
Atco Records
ATCO Records is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group, currently operating through WMG's Rhino Entertainment.-Beginnings:Atco Records was founded in 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records. It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic's founders, Herb Abramson, who...

 would distribute the Stones' recordings in the USA, with other territories mainly handled by Warner Bros. international divisions.

One of the Warner group's wisest investments was Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac are a British–American rock band formed in 1967 in London.The only original member present in the band is its eponymous drummer, Mick Fleetwood...

. The band signed to Reprise in the early 1970s after relocating to the USA and the label supported them through numerous lineup changes and several lean years during which the band's records sold relatively poorly, although they remained a popular concert attraction. Ironically, after their transfer to Warner Bros. in 1975 and the recruitment of new members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks
Stephanie Lynn "Stevie" Nicks is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac and an extensive solo career, which collectively have produced over forty Top 50 hits and sold over 140 million albums...

, the group scored a major international hit with the breakthrough single "Rhiannon" and consolidated with the blockbusting albums Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac are a British–American rock band formed in 1967 in London.The only original member present in the band is its eponymous drummer, Mick Fleetwood...

, Rumours
Rumours
Rumours is the eleventh studio album by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. Largely recorded in California during 1976, it was produced by the band with Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut and was released on 4 February 1977 by Warner Bros. Records. The record peaked at the top of both the...

and Tusk
Tusk
Tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth, usually but not always in pairs, that protrude well beyond the mouth of certain mammal species. They are most commonly canines, as with warthogs, wild boar, and walruses, or, in the case of elephants and narwhals, elongated incisors...

, becoming one of the most successful bands of all time.

In 1972, the Warner group acquired another rich prize, David Geffen
David Geffen
David Geffen is an American record executive, film producer, theatrical producer and philanthropist. Geffen is noted for creating Asylum Records in 1970, Geffen Records in 1980, and DGC Records in 1990...

's Asylum Records
Asylum Records
Asylum Records is an American record label founded in 1971 by David Geffen, and partner Elliot Roberts, who had previously worked as agents at the William Morris Agency. Founded specifically to provide a record contract for Jackson Browne, the label signed Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell...

. The $7 million purchase brought in several very important acts who would prove crucial the Warner group's subsequent success, including Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt is an American popular music recording artist. She has earned eleven Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award, an ALMA Award, numerous United States and internationally certified gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums, in addition to Tony Award and Golden...

, The Eagles, Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne is an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 17 million albums in the United States alone....

, Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell, CC is a Canadian musician, singer songwriter, and painter. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in her native Saskatchewan and Western Canada and then busking in the streets and dives of Toronto...

 and later Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon
Warren William Zevon was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician noted for including his sometimes sardonic opinions of life in his musical lyrics, composing songs that were sometimes humorous and often had political or historical themes.Zevon's work has often been praised by well-known...

. On the downside, however, it was rumoured that Warners was soon concerned about their possible liability under the California State Labor Code because of Geffen's questionable status as both the manager of most of the Asylum acts and the head of the record label to which they were signed. The sale included the Asylum Records label and its recordings, as well as Geffen's lucrative music publishing assets and the interests in the royalties of some of the artists managed by Geffen and partner Elliot Roberts
Elliot Roberts
Elliot Roberts is an American music manager, record executive, and philanthropist, best known for helping start the careers of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell....

. Geffen accepted a five year contract with WCI and turned over his 75% share in the Geffen-Roberts management company to Roberts and Warners paid Geffen and Roberts 121,952 common shares worth $4,750,000 at the time of the sale, plus $400,000 in cash and a further $1.6 million in promissory notes convertible to common stock.

Although it seemed a lucrative deal at the time, Geffen soon had reason to regret it. Uncharacteristically, he had greatly underestimated the value of his assets—within Asylum's first year as a Warner subsidiary, albums by Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt is an American popular music recording artist. She has earned eleven Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award, an ALMA Award, numerous United States and internationally certified gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums, in addition to Tony Award and Golden...

 and The Eagles alone had earned more than the entire value of the Asylum sale. Geffen's discomfort was compounded by the fact that, within six months of the sale, the value of his volatile Warner shares had plummeted from $4.5 million to just $800,000. He appealed to Steve Ross to intervene, and as part of a make-good deal, Ross agreed to pay him the difference in the share value over five years. Acting on Jac Holzman's suggestion that Kinney should take Asylum from Atlantic and merge it with Elektra, Ross then appointed Geffen to run the new combined label.

In 1976, Warner gained a brief early lead in digital media when it purchased the Atari
Atari
Atari is a corporate and brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972. It is currently owned by Atari Interactive, a wholly owned subsidiary of the French publisher Atari, SA . The original Atari, Inc. was founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. It was a pioneer in...

 computer company, and in 1981 it bought the Franklin Mint
Franklin Mint
The Franklin Mint is a private corporation founded by Joseph Segel in 1964. The private mint operated from Wawa, Pennsylvania but that operation has now closed...

 novelty company. WCI also blazed the trail in visual music with MTV
MTV
MTV, formerly an initialism of Music Television, is an American network based in New York City that launched on August 1, 1981. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by on-air hosts known as VJs....

, which it created and co-owned in partnership with American Express
American Express
American Express Company or AmEx, is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Three World Financial Center, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Founded in 1850, it is one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company is best...

. In 1984–85, Warner rapidly divested many of these recent acquisitions, including Atari, Franklin Mint, Panavision
Panavision
Panavision is an American motion picture equipment company specializing in cameras and lenses, based in Woodland Hills, California. Formed by Robert Gottschalk as a small partnership to create anamorphic projection lenses during the widescreen boom in the 1950s, Panavision expanded its product...

, MTV Networks
MTV Networks
MTV Networks is a division of media conglomerate Viacom that oversees the operations of many television channels and Internet brands, including the original MTV channel in the United States...

 and a cosmetics business.

New signings in the late 1970s placed the Warner group in a strong position for the 1980s. A deal with Seymour Stein
Seymour Stein
Seymour Stein is an entrepreneur in the music industry who has been a part of the business since getting his first job as a clerk for Billboard magazine in 1958. Stein is a vice president of Warner Bros...

's Sire Records
Sire Records
Sire Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group and distributed through Warner Bros. Records.-Beginnings:The label was founded in 1966 as Sire Productions by Seymour Stein and Richard Gottehrer, each investing ten thousand dollars into the new company. Its early releases as a...

 label (which Warner Bros. Records later took over) brought in several major punk
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 and New Wave
New Wave music
New Wave is a subgenre of :rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970s alongside punk rock. The term at first generally was synonymous with punk rock before being considered a genre in its own right that incorporated aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco and 1960s...

 acts including The Pretenders
The Pretenders
The Pretenders are an English rock band formed in Hereford, England in March 1978. The original band consisted of initiator and main songwriter Chrissie Hynde , James Honeyman-Scott , Pete Farndon , and Martin Chambers...

, The Ramones and Talking Heads
Talking Heads
Talking Heads were an American New Wave and avant-garde band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison...

 and, most importantly, rising star Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

; Elektra signed The Cars
The Cars
The Cars are an American rock band that emerged from the early New Wave music scene in the late 1970s. The band consisted of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Ric Ocasek, lead singer and bassist Benjamin Orr, guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson...

 and Warner Bros. signed Prince
Prince (musician)
Prince Rogers Nelson , often known simply as Prince, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Prince has produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. Prince founded his own recording studio and label; writing, self-producing and playing most, or all, of...

, giving WEA several of the biggest-selling acts of the decade.

WEA's labels also distributed a number of otherwise independent labels. For example, Warner Bros. distributed Straight Records
Straight Records
Straight Records was a record label formed in 1969 to distribute productions and discoveries of Frank Zappa and his business partner/manager Herb Cohen. Straight was formed at the same time as a companion label, Bizarre Records. Straight and Bizarre were manufactured and distributed in the U.S. by...

, DiscReet Records
DiscReet Records
DiscReet Records was a company founded by Frank Zappa and his then business partner/manager Herb Cohen. It was created in 1973 when their previous companies Bizarre Records and Straight Records were discontinued...

, Bizarre Records
Bizarre Records
Bizarre Records was a record label formed for artists discovered by rock musician Frank Zappa and his business partner/manager Herb Cohen.Bizarre was originally formed as a production company...

, Bearsville Records
Bearsville Records
Bearsville Records was founded in 1970 by Albert Grossman. Artists included Todd Rundgren, Elizabeth Barraclough, Foghat, Halfnelson/Sparks, Bobby Charles, Randy VanWarmer, Paul Butterfield's Better Days, Lazarus, Jesse Winchester, and NRBQ. The label closed in 1984, two years before Grossman's...

, and Geffen Records
Geffen Records
Geffen Records is an American record label, owned by Universal Music Group, and operated as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-Beginnings:...

 (the latter was sold to MCA
MCA Records
MCA Records was an American-based record company owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group , of which MCA Records was still part. MCA Records was absorbed by Geffen Records in 2003...

 in 1990). Atlantic Records distributed Swan Song Records
Swan Song Records
Swan Song Records was a record label launched by the English rock band Led Zeppelin on 10 May 1974. It was overseen by Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant and was a vehicle for the band to promote its own products as well as sign artists who found it difficult to win contracts with other major labels...

. In 1975, WEA scored a major coup by signing a distribution agreement with Island Records
Island Records
Island Records is a record label that was founded by Chris Blackwell in Jamaica. It was based in the United Kingdom for many years and is now owned by Universal Music Group...

, which only covered the United States and select other countries. For the next 14 years (initially with Warner Bros. until 1982, then with Atlantic afterward), WEA would distribute such artists as Bob Marley
Bob Marley
Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, OM was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for the ska, rocksteady and reggae band Bob Marley & The Wailers...

, U2
U2
U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono , The Edge , Adam Clayton , and Larry Mullen, Jr. . U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music...

, Robert Palmer, Anthrax
Anthrax (band)
Anthrax is an American heavy metal band from New York City, formed in 1981. Founded by guitarists Scott Ian and Danny Lilker, the band has since released ten studio albums and 20 singles, and an EP featuring Public Enemy. The band was one of the most popular of the 1980s thrash metal scene...

, and Tom Waits
Tom Waits
Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."...

. This relationship ended when Island was sold to PolyGram
PolyGram
PolyGram was the name of the major label recording company started by Philips from as a holding company for its music interests in 1945. In 1999 it was sold to Seagram and merged into Universal Music Group.-Hollandsche Decca Distributie , 1929-1950:...

 in 1989.

1980s

A proposed 1983 international merger between Polygram
PolyGram
PolyGram was the name of the major label recording company started by Philips from as a holding company for its music interests in 1945. In 1999 it was sold to Seagram and merged into Universal Music Group.-Hollandsche Decca Distributie , 1929-1950:...

 and WEA was forbidden by both the US Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

 and Germany's cartel office, so PolyGram's half-owner Philips
Philips
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. , more commonly known as Philips, is a multinational Dutch electronics company....

 then purchased a further 40% of the company from its partner Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

, and bought the remaining shares in 1987. The same year, PolyGram divested its film and publishing operations, closed PolyGram Pictures
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment was a film studio, founded in 1979 as a European competitor to Hollywood, but eventually sold and merged with Universal Pictures in 1999....

 and sold Chappell Music to Warner for US$275 million. In 1988 WEA took over the prestigious German classical label Teldec
Teldec
The Teldec is a German record label in Hamburg, Germany. Today the label is a property of Warner Music Group.-History:...

 and the UK Magnet Records
Magnet Records
Magnet Records was a record label started in 1973 by Michael Levy and acquired by Warner Bros. Records in 1988 for an estimated £10m.Artists on the label included Alvin Stardust, Matchbox, Adrian Baker, Silver Convention, Guys 'n' Dolls, Darts, Kissing the Pink, Bad Manners, David D'Or, Blue Zoo...

 label.

In 1989, it was announced that Warner Communications was to merge with Time Inc.
Time Inc.
Time Inc. is a subsidiary of the media conglomerate Time Warner, the company formed by the 1990 merger of the original Time Inc. and Warner Communications. It publishes 130 magazines, most notably its namesake, Time...

 to form Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

, a transaction that was completed in 1990. Following the merger, WEA continued acquiring independent labels, buying CGD Records (Italy) and MMG Records (Japan) in 1989.

1990s

Through the 1990s, Time Warner was the largest media company in the world, with assets in excess of US$20 billion and annual revenues in the billions of dollars; by 1991, Warner's music labels were generating sales valued at more than US$3 billion, with operating profits of $550 million and by 1995 its music division dominated the US music industry with a 22% share of the domestic market. Acquisitions and corporate changes within the Warner group of labels continued after the Time Warner merger—in 1990 WEA purchased French label Carrere Disques, WEA was renamed Warner Music in 1991, leading French classical label Erato
Erato Records
Erato Records is a record label founded in 1953 to promote French classical music. In 1992 it became part of Warner Bros. Records. In 1999 Erato launched a subsidiary Detour Records....

 (1992) and in 1993 WEA bought the Spanish DRO Group, Hungary's Magneoton label, the Swedish Telegram Records, Brazil's Continental Records
Continental Records
Continental Records was the name of two different record labels of the mid 20th century, one based in New York City, the United States of America, and the second based in São Paulo, Brazil....

 and Finnish label Fazer Musiiki.

Atlantic launched two new subsidiary labels in the early 1990s: EastWest Records (which absorbed Atco Records) and Interscope Records
Interscope Records
Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that currently operates as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-History:...

. The former was later absorbed into Elektra, and the latter was also sold to MCA in 1995.

During 1992, the Warner Music Group faced one of the most serious public relations crises in its history when a major controversy erupted over the provocative Warner Bros. recording "Cop Killer
Cop Killer (song)
"Cop Killer" is a song by American band Body Count, from its 1992 self-titled debut album. The lyrics are sung from the point of view of an individual who is outraged by police brutality and decides to take the law into his own hands by killing police officers...

" from the self-titled album by Body Count
Body Count
Body Count is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1990. The group is fronted by rapper and actor Ice-T, who founded the group out of his interest in heavy metal music, taking on the role of vocalist and writing the lyrics for most of the group's songs. Lead guitarist...

, a heavy metal
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

/rap
Rap
Rap may refer to:*Rapping, performance in which rhyming lyrics are used, with or without musical accompaniment ; while an MC performs spoken verses in time to a beat/ melody**Hip hop subculture**Hip hop music...

 fusion band led by Ice-T
ICE-T
* Ice-T, an American rapper and actor* ICE T , a tilting model of the German InterCityExpress series of high-speed trains...

. Unfortunately for Warners, the song (which mentioned the Rodney King
Rodney King
Rodney Glen King is an American best known for his involvement in a police brutality case involving the Los Angeles Police Department on March 3, 1991...

 case) was issued just before the controversial acquittal of the police charged with King's beating, which sparked the 1992 Los Angeles Riots
1992 Los Angeles riots
The 1992 Los Angeles Riots or South Central Riots, also known as the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest were sparked on April 29, 1992, when a jury acquitted three white and one hispanic Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King following a...

 and the confluence of events put the song under the national spotlight. Complaints escalated over the summer—conservative police associations called for a boycott of Time Warner products, politicians including President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 denounced the label for releasing the song, Warner executives received death threats, Time Warner stockholders threatened to pull out of the company and the New Zealand police commissioner unsuccessfully tried to have the record banned there. Although Ice-T later voluntarily reissued Body Count without "Cop Killer", the furore seriously rattled Warner Music and in January 1993 the label made an undisclosed deal releasing Ice-T from his contract and returning the Body Count
Body Count
Body Count is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1990. The group is fronted by rapper and actor Ice-T, who founded the group out of his interest in heavy metal music, taking on the role of vocalist and writing the lyrics for most of the group's songs. Lead guitarist...

master tapes to him.

Also in 1992, the Rhino Records label signed a distribution agreement with Atlantic Records and Time Warner bought a 50% stake in the Rhino Records label. The distribution agreement allowed Rhino to begin reissuing recordings from Atlantic's back catalogue.

In 1994, Canadian beverage giant Seagram
Seagram
The Seagram Company Ltd. was a large corporation headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada that was the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world. Toward the end of its independent existence it also controlled various entertainment and other business ventures...

 bought a 14.5% stake in Time Warner, and the Warner publishing division—now called Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. is an American music publishing company, and a division of the Warner Music Group. The company traces its origins back to 1811 and the founding of Chappell & Company, a music publishing company and instrument shop on London’s Bond Street that, in 1929, began a rapid...

 – acquired CPP/Belwin, becoming the world's largest owner of song copyrights and the world's largest publisher of printed music. In 1996, Time Warner made another dramatic expansion of its media holdings, taking over the Turner Broadcasting System
Turner Broadcasting System
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. is the Time Warner subsidiary managing the collection of cable networks and properties started and acquired by Robert Edward "Ted" Turner starting in the mid-1970s. The company has its headquarters in the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia. TBS, Inc...

, which by then included the Turner cable TV network, CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

 and the screen production houses Castle Rock Entertainment
Castle Rock Entertainment
Castle Rock Entertainment is a film and television production company founded in 1987 by Martin Shafer, director Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman, Glenn Padnick and Alan Horn. It is a subsidiary of Warner Bros...

 and New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema, often simply referred to as New Line, is an American film studio. It was founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne as a film distributor, later becoming an independent film studio. It became a subsidiary of Time Warner in 1996 and was merged with larger sister studio Warner...

, acquisitions which would bring huge profits into the Warner Group thanks to content assets like Seinfeld
Seinfeld
Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998, lasting nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself...

and the colossally successful Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Lord of the Rings is an epic film trilogy consisting of three fantasy adventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are The Fellowship of the Ring , The Two Towers and The Return of the King .The films were directed by Peter...

film trilogy.

By the early 1990s, senior Warner staff like Ostin and Waronker had remained in their positions for several decades—a highly unusual situation in the cutthroat world of the American music industry—but the death of Steve Ross destabilized the Time Warner hierarchy, and over the next few years the music group was increasingly disrupted by internal power struggles, leading to a string of major executive upheavals in 1994–95 which The New York Times described as "a virtual civil war".

The central conflict was between Mo Ostin and Warner Music Group chairman Robert Morgado, who had joined the Warner group in the late 1980s. Because of his political background (he had been the chief-of-staff to former New York Governor Hugh L. Carey) and his lack of music industry experience—especially compared to the widely-revered Ostin—Morgado was viewed as an outsider at Warner. Nevertheless, he gained favour with Ross and Levin and was promoted in 1985 to oversee the Warner international music division after helping the company slash costs in its computer game sector.

Since his appointment as head of WBR, Ostin had always reported directly to Steve Ross and Ross's successor Gerald Levin, but in late 1993, when Ostin's contract came up for renewal, Morgado asserted his authority, insisting that Ostin should now to report directly to him. The tensions between them reached boiling point in July 1994 when Morgado appointed former Atlantic chief Doug Morris
Doug Morris
Doug Morris is an American music executive. He is the current Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment. He previously served as Chairman and CEO of the Universal Music Group from 1995 to 2011.-Life and career:...

 to head the Warner Music Group in the USA, a decision that many saw as a deliberate move to hasten the departure of Ostin and Elektra head Robert Krasnow. Morgado's new structure was announced in August 1994 and Bob Krasnow resigned from Elektra the next day. Within days, after more than 30 years with the Warner music group and more than 20 years as President and Chairman of Warner Bros. Records, Ostin announced he would not renew his current contract and would leave Warners when it expired on 31 Dec. 1994. There was more negative publicity the following month, when top Elektra act Metallica
Metallica
Metallica is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1981 when James Hetfield responded to an advertisement that drummer Lars Ulrich had posted in a local newspaper. The current line-up features long-time lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo ...

 launched a lawsuit against the label, seeking a release from their contract and ownership of their master tapes, and claiming that Morgado had refused to honour a deal they had worked out with Krasnow before he quit.

Ostin's departure marked a seismic shift in the corporate culture at WBR and the news was greeted with dismay by industry insiders and the many artists whose careers he had helped to nurture. Lenny Waronker had agreed to take over as WBR Chairman and CEO but in October 1994 he announced that would not be taking up the position; he initially said that he would remain as President of WBR but by this time there was already widespread speculation that he would leave, and he did so soon after. The following year he re-joined Ostin and son Michael as joint head of the newly launched DreamWorks Records
DreamWorks Records
DreamWorks Records was an American record label. Founded in 1996 by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg as a subsidiary of DreamWorks SKG, the label operated until 2005 when it was shut down...

 label.

Beginning in August 1994, Morgado alienated Morris by his clumsy handling of Warner's relationship with Interscope Records
Interscope Records
Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that currently operates as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-History:...

, the successful label founded by Ted Field
Ted Field
Frederick Woodruff "Ted" Field is an American media mogul and entrepreneur and film producer.-Biography:Field was born in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, the son of Katherine Woodruff Fanning, an editor of the Christian Science Monitor, and Marshall Field IV, who owned the Chicago Sun-Times. He is...

 and Jimmy Iovine
Jimmy Iovine
James "Jimmy" Iovine is an American music producer, entrepreneur and chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M.-Biography:...

 and part-owned by Warner. Morgado had resisted making a decision about increasing the Warner stake in Interscope, which encouraged other companies to make overtures to the label; in response, Morgado threatened to send cease-and-desist notices to executives at several record companies, demanding that they stop approaching Interscope with buyout offers, a move that reportedly infuriated Iovine.

By late 1994, Morris was gaining the upper hand over his rival and media reports claimed that Morris had moved to settle with Metallica, offering a deal that was reportedly even more generous than the one they had worked out with Krasnow. Morgado now faced a showdown with Morris, who felt he was not being allowed to run WMG as he saw fit. In October 1994, Morris and 11 other Warner executives "staged an unprecedented insurrection that nearly paralyzed the world's largest record company". This led to a climactic meeting between Morris and Gerald Levin in late October, at which Morris reportedly threatened to quit if he had to continue to report to Morgado.

Morgado gave in to the demand that Morris be granted autonomy to run the North American operations and he was forced to upgrade Morris' position from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Executive of Warner Music Group (USA); Morris promptly named Danny Goldberg, former president of Atlantic Records, to run WBR in defiance of Morgado, who had a different candidate in mind and Levin also reduced Morgado's power to oversee Warner's mail-order record club division and its international operations. Morris then brought in Sylvia Rhone
Sylvia Rhone
Sylvia Rhone is an American music industry executive who served as president of Universal Motown Records until 2011.She has overseen a roster of artists in the Universal Motown lineup including Lil Wayne and the Cash Money artists Nicki Minaj, Drake, Kid Cudi, Nelly, Melanie Fiona, Akon, Erykah...

 and Seymour Stein
Seymour Stein
Seymour Stein is an entrepreneur in the music industry who has been a part of the business since getting his first job as a clerk for Billboard magazine in 1958. Stein is a vice president of Warner Bros...

 to stabilize Elektra, settled the Metallica lawsuit and persuaded Levin to purchase an additional 25% of Interscope, although this initiative proved short-lived.

The power struggle between Morgado and Morris reached a dramatic climax in May 1995 when Morgado was asked to resign by Gerald Levin, following a welter of complaints from executives at the three major Warner Music labels, who said that Morgado was undermining Morris' authority and damaging Warner's reputation among performers. Morgado was immediately replaced by HBO
Home Box Office
HBO, short for Home Box Office, is an American premium cable television network, owned by Time Warner. , HBO's programming reaches 28.2 million subscribers in the United States, making it the second largest premium network in America . In addition to its U.S...

 chairman Michael J. Fuchs
Michael J. Fuchs
Michael J. Fuchs isan American executive producer for premium cable television network HBO.-Career:Fuchs is the son of Charles Fuchs a Real Estate Executive...

 but the corporate upheavals did not end there; in late June 1995 Fuchs abruptly dismissed Doug Morris, saying that Morris had been "leading a campaign to destabilize Warner Music in an effort to seize control of the company". As Morris' strongest ally, Danny Goldberg was also under threat; he was initially told that he could stay on as President of WBR as long as he refrained from office politics and concentrate on the day-to-day management of the label, but he resigned as President of Warner Bros. Records soon after to pursue "other interests", and was replaced by WBR Vice-Chairman Russ Thyret.

Despite early success with Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. , better known by his stage name Snoop Dogg, is an American rapper, record producer, and actor. Snoop is best known as a rapper in the West Coast hip hop scene, and for being one of Dr. Dre's most notable protégés. Snoop Dogg was a Crip gang member while in high school...

, and Morris' decision to increase Warner's stake to 50%, by the mid-1990s Interscope Records
Interscope Records
Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that currently operates as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-History:...

 was being seen as a liability for the Warner group. Time Warner's board and investors had already been bruised by the damaging 1992 "Cop Killer
Cop Killer (song)
"Cop Killer" is a song by American band Body Count, from its 1992 self-titled debut album. The lyrics are sung from the point of view of an individual who is outraged by police brutality and decides to take the law into his own hands by killing police officers...

" controversy and now they were faced with renewed criticism about the gangsta rap
Gangsta rap
Gangsta Rap is a subgenre of hip hop music that evolved from hardcore hip hop and purports to reflect urban crime and the violent lifestyles of inner-city youths. Lyrics in gangsta rap have varied from accurate reflections to fictionalized accounts. Gangsta is a non-rhotic pronunciation of the word...

 genre, in which Interscope's associate imprint Death Row Records
Death Row Records
Death Row Records is a record label founded in 1991 by Marion "Suge" Knight Jr., Andre Young , Tracy Lynn Curry and Michael Harris . It is known to have been home to many popular West Coast hip hop artists such as Dr...

 was a key label. In mid-1995, Time Warner refused to distribute the Interscope album Dogg Food
Dogg Food
Dogg Food is the debut studio album by American hip hop group Tha Dogg Pound. Its controversial lyrics were the subject of shareholder protest...

by Tha Dogg Pound
Tha Dogg Pound
Tha Dogg Pound is a rap group made up of Daz Dillinger and Kurupt. They were signed to Death Row Records in their early careers and were key to the label's success. The group made their 1992 rap debut on Dr. Dre's The Chronic, on various songs. They also appeared on Snoop Dogg's debut album...

, forcing the label to seek outside distribution, and in late in the year TW sold its stake in Death Row back to co-owners Jimmy Iovine
Jimmy Iovine
James "Jimmy" Iovine is an American music producer, entrepreneur and chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M.-Biography:...

 and Ted Field and soon after it sold off its share in Interscope to MCA Music Entertainment.

The upheaval at Warner was beneficial to its rivals, who picked up valuable executives who had left Warner. Goldberg moved over to Mercury Records
Mercury Records
Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the Island Def Jam Motown Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group. There is also a Mercury Records in Australia, which is a local artist and repertoire division of Universal...

; Morris joined MCA Music Entertainment Group
MCA Records
MCA Records was an American-based record company owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group , of which MCA Records was still part. MCA Records was absorbed by Geffen Records in 2003...

 and led its reorganization into Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

, now the world's largest record company. In November 1995, Fuchs was himself sacked by Levin, leaving the company with a reported US$60 million "golden parachute
Golden parachute
A golden parachute is an agreement between a company and an employee specifying that the employee will receive certain significant benefits if employment is terminated. Sometimes, certain conditions, typically a change in company ownership, must be met, but often the cause of termination is...

", and Time Warner co-chairmen Robert A. Daly
Robert A. Daly
Robert A. Daly is an American business executive who has led organizations such as CBS Entertainment, Warner Bros., Warner Music Group, and the Los Angeles Dodgers....

 and Terry S. Semel took over the running of the music division.

In 1998, Seagram boss Edgar Bronfman Jr. held talks aimed at merging Seagram's Universal Music, headed by Morris, with the venerable British recording company EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

, but the discussions came to nothing; Bronfman then oversaw Universal's takeover by Vivendi
Vivendi
Vivendi SA is a French international media conglomerate with activities in music, television and film, publishing, telecommunications, the Internet, and video games. It is headquartered in Paris.- History :...

. WEA meanwhile continued to expand its publishing empire, buying a 90% stake in the Italian recording and music publishing group Nuova Fonit Cetra.

Also in 1998, Time Warner bought the remaining 50% of the Rhino Records label they did not own. The Rhino Records retail store in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 was not included. Rhino then began reissuing the back catalogues of the Warner/Reprise and Elektra/Asylum labels. In 1999 Rhino launched Rhino Handmade which releases limited edition reissues of lesser known but still significant recordings from the WEA labels.

2000s

In 2000, Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 merged with leading American internet service provider
Internet service provider
An Internet service provider is a company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Hosting ISPs lease server space for smaller businesses and host other people servers...

 AOL
AOL
AOL Inc. is an American global Internet services and media company. AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway in New York. Founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation, it has franchised its services to companies in several nations around the world or set up international versions of its services...

 to create AOL Time Warner. The new conglomerate again tried (and failed) to acquire EMI, and subsequent discussions about the takeover of BMG
BMG
Bertelsmann Music Group, , was a division of Bertelsmann before its completion of sale of the majority of its assets to Japan's Sony Corporation of America on October 1, 2008. It was established in 1987 to combine the music label activities of Bertelsmann...

 stalled, with Bertelsmann eventually offloading BMG into a joint venture with Sony
Sony
, commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and the world's fifth largest media conglomerate measured by revenues....

. In 2002, AOLTW further consolidated its hold over the publishing industry, buying 50% of music publisher Deston Songs from Edel music AG. By the early 2000s, however, the effects of the dot-com crash had eroded AOL's profits and stock value, and in 2003 the Time Warner board sidelined its under-performing partner by dropping AOL from its business name.

Looking to reduce its debt load, Time Warner—the corporate successor to Warner Communications—sold Warner Music Group in 2004 to a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. for US$2.6 billion. This spinoff was completed on February 27, 2004. In the 2004 transition to independent ownership, WMG hired record industry heavyweight Lyor Cohen
Lyor Cohen
Lyor Cohen is the North American Chairman and CEO of Recorded Music for Warner Music Group . He has been a pioneer in the development of hip hop music and influential in the development of hip hop music acts, including Beastie Boys, Foxy Brown, LL Cool J, Jam Master Jay, Nas, Run-D.M.C...

 from Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

 (the result of the merger between the PolyGram and MCA label families) to attempt to reduce cost and increase performance. Contrary to common belief, Time Warner no longer retains any ownership in WMG, though it had the option to re-acquire up to 20% of WMG for three years following the closing of the transaction. WMG's current logo is the former Warner Communications logo (originally designed by Saul Bass
Saul Bass
Saul Bass was a Jewish-American graphic designer and filmmaker, best known for his design of motion picture title sequences....

) and is used under license by its former parent, which retains full ownership and control of the Warner trademarks.

The Warner music group currently trades as Warner Music Group and is structured in three main units: recording, licensing and publishing. It has thirty-seven affiliates and numerous licensees in over fifty countries, and operates on every continent (except Antarctica). Its major record labels include Atlantic, Elektra, Nonesuch, Reprise, Rhino, Sire, Teldec, Warner Bros. and Word
Word Records
Word Records is a Christian record label based in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a division of Word Entertainment , which, itself is co-owned by Warner Music Group and Curb Records...

. Its music publishing division, Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. is an American music publishing company, and a division of the Warner Music Group. The company traces its origins back to 1811 and the founding of Chappell & Company, a music publishing company and instrument shop on London’s Bond Street that, in 1929, began a rapid...

, is currently the largest music publisher in the world, with a catalogue of over one million song copyrights.

Once free of Time Warner, WMG began cutting costs by offloading loss-making or low-earning divisions. Like its rival EMI, Warner reacted to the growth of the digital music market by making a historic change, moving out of record production by closing or selling off disc-pressing plants, particularly in territories such as the USA and the Netherlands, where production costs are high. The US manufacturing operations were sold to Cinram
Cinram
Cinram International Income Fund is a Toronto, Ontario-based manufacturer of pre-recorded DVDs, VHS videocassettes, CD-Audio, CD-ROMs, and audio cassettes. Cinram was established in 1969 in Montreal by Isidore Philosophe and Samuel Sokoloff....

 in 2003, before the purchase from Time Warner.

In 2005, the Miami-based Warner Bros. Publications, which printed and distributed a broad selection of sheet music, books, educational material, orchestrations, arrangements and tutorials, was sold to Alfred Music Publishing, although the sale excluded the print music business of WMG's Word Music (church hymnals, choral music and associated instrumental music).

On May 3, 2006, WMG apparently rejected a buyout offer from EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

. Then WMG offered to buy EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

 and it also rejected the offer. In August 2007, EMI was purchased by Terra Firma Capital Partners
Terra Firma Capital Partners
Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd is a leading U.K.-based private equity firm, best known for its failed investment in British music company EMI. Financier Guy Hands founded the firm in 2002 through the spin-off of Nomura Principal Finance Group...

. Talk of a possible WMG acquisition of EMI was fanned once again in 2009 after WMG executed a bond offering for $1.1 billion, which brought to light WMG's relatively strong financial position, which was contrasted with the weakened and debt-laden state of EMI. The same year WMG acquired Rykodisc
Rykodisc
Rykodisc Records is an American record label. It is owned by Warner Music Group, operates as a unit of WMG's Independent Label Group and is distributed through Alternative Distribution Alliance.-Company history:...

 and Roadrunner Records
Roadrunner Records
Roadrunner Records is an American record label that concentrates primarily on heavy metal bands. It is currently a subsidiary of Warner Music Group.-History:...

.

On December 27, 2007, Warner announced that it would sell digital music without Digital Rights Management
Digital rights management
Digital rights management is a class of access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals with the intent to limit the use of digital content and devices after sale. DRM is any technology that inhibits uses of digital content that...

 through AmazonMP3, making it the third major label to do so. In 2008, the New York Times reported that WMG's Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

 became the first major record label to generate more than half of its music sales in the U.S. from digital products. In 2010, Fast Company magazine detailed the company's transformation efforts in its recorded music division, where it has redefined the relationships it has with artists and diversified its revenue streams through its expansion into growing areas of the music business

In 2007, Warner/Chappell
Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. is an American music publishing company, and a division of the Warner Music Group. The company traces its origins back to 1811 and the founding of Chappell & Company, a music publishing company and instrument shop on London’s Bond Street that, in 1929, began a rapid...

 sent a Cease and Desist letter to Walter Ritter, the creator of a freeware program called PearLyrics that was used to find lyrics of songs using the internet. In response to wide negative publicity, it subsequently apologized and offered to cooperate with him on the application. However, no subsequent overtures seem to have been made, and the software remains unavailable.

WMG was the first major media company to form a strategic relationship with YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

, effectively embracing a business model around user-generated content. The arrangement with YouTube required that royalties be paid based on the number of views that videos featuring music from WMG artists received. However in December 2008, negotiations between the two companies broke down, and as a result, clips on YouTube featuring WMG music recordings have had their audio removed or blocked completely and replaced with a message indicating copyright infringement.

In 2008, WMG, Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

, and several Indies (via Merlin) together with the Orchard licensed their full back catalogs to the new concept of Spotify
Spotify
Spotify is a Swedish-founded, UK-headquartered DRM-based music streaming service offering streaming of selected music from a range of major and independent record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal. Launched in October 2008 by Swedish startup Spotify AB, the service had...

 in order to fight piracy with a legal way of music streaming. However, in February 2010, WMG announced that it would no longer be licensing music for Spotify and other free streaming services, claiming that they were "clearly not positive for the industry".

In 2009, Warner Music took over its South-East Asian and Korean distributions of EMI audio and video products, including newer domestic releases, which was announced September 2008. The two companies already enjoy a successful partnership in India, the Middle East and North Africa, where EMI has marketed and distributed Warner Music’s physical product since 2005.

2010s & Sale to Access Industries

Warner formed a partnership with MTV Networks
MTV Networks
MTV Networks is a division of media conglomerate Viacom that oversees the operations of many television channels and Internet brands, including the original MTV channel in the United States...

 in June 2010 that allows MTVN to exclusively sell ads on WMG's premium content. In turn, views of WMG videos will be counted as views for MTVN. As a result of the alliance, MTV Networks overtook Vevo
Vevo
Vevo is a music video website. It is a joint venture among Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Abu Dhabi Media with EMI licensing its content to the group without taking an ownership stake. The service was launched officially on December 8, 2009...

 as the top online music video-sharing network.

In May, 2011, the company announced its sale to Access Industries for US$3.3 billion in cash. The price represented $8.25 a share, a 34% premium over the six-month-before average price and a 4% premium over the day-before price but a drop of 70+% since 2007. Access is a conglomerate
Conglomerate (company)
A conglomerate is a combination of two or more corporations engaged in entirely different businesses that fall under one corporate structure , usually involving a parent company and several subsidiaries. Often, a conglomerate is a multi-industry company...

 controlled by Russian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik. "The deal cap[ped] a three-month sale process in which as many as 10 bidders vied" for the company, according to the Wall Street Journal. Blavatnik was a former board member and still-substantial shareholder of WMG at the time of the purchase announcement. Runners-up in the bidding were Los Angeles-based brothers Tom
Tom Gores
Tom Gores is an American billionaire with an estimated current net worth of $2.4 billion dollars. He appears on the Forbes list of 2011 World's Billionaires. On June 1, 2011 he became the owner of the Detroit Pistons.-Biography:...

 and Alec Gores
Alec Gores
Alec E. Gores is an American businessman who made his fortune through leveraged buyouts of technology firms. His personal wealth was estimated at roughly $1.5 billion by Forbes magazine in 2008.-Early life and education:...

. Another report valued the sale at US$1.3 billion plus the assumption of US$2 billion of debt, for the same total. This report said cash of US$320 million would change hands in the transaction and that, while further job cuts were likely, CEO Bronfman would continue in his post. The investment group which has owned the company since 2004 was said to have received a profitable return on its investment, and that Blavatnik's current stake in the company was about 2 percent. Other unsuccessful bidders included Ron Burkle and No. 2 music company Sony Corp., and Sony and Vivendi
Vivendi
Vivendi SA is a French international media conglomerate with activities in music, television and film, publishing, telecommunications, the Internet, and video games. It is headquartered in Paris.- History :...

 SA’s Universal Music Group, ranked No. 1, were said to be prospective buyers of parts of WMG going forward. The purchase was completed on July 20, 2011 and the company became private.

In August 2011, Stephen Cooper
Stephen Cooper (businessman)
Stephen Cooper is the current CEO of Warner Music Group. He became CEO in August 2011 as Edgar Bronfman Jr. became Chairman. -Education:Cooper has an BA from Occidental College and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. -Career:...

 became CEO of Warner Music Group replacing Edgar Bronfman Jr., who became Chairman of the company.

It was announced on October 31, 2011 that Warner Music Group was once again in talks to acquire EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

's recorded music business, according to The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

. The goal of WMG was to combine with EMI and form a company that would effectively compete with 2 other largest music groups: Universal
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

 and Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment ' is the second-largest global recorded music company of the "big four" record companies and is controlled by Sony Corporation of America, the United States subsidiary of Japan's Sony Corporation....

. Bloomberg News
Bloomberg Television
Bloomberg Television is a 24-hour global network broadcasting business and financial news. It is distributed globally, reaching over 200 million homes worldwide. It is owned and operated by Bloomberg L.P...

 was reporting that Warner Music had submitted a bid of around $2 billion. However, Universal ended up being the one buying EMI.

Music publishing

Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. is an American music publishing company, and a division of the Warner Music Group. The company traces its origins back to 1811 and the founding of Chappell & Company, a music publishing company and instrument shop on London’s Bond Street that, in 1929, began a rapid...

 dates back to 1811 and the creation of Chappell & Company, a sheet music and instrument merchant in London. In 1929, Jack Warner, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Inc., founded Music Publishers Holding Company (MPHC) to acquire music copyrights as a means of providing inexpensive music for films and, in 1987, Warner Bros.' corporate parent, Warner Communications, acquired Chappell & Company. Its printed music operation, Warner Bros. Publications, was sold to Alfred Publishing on June 1, 2005.

Among the historic compositions of which the publishing rights are controlled by WMG are the works of Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. In the 1930s and 1940s, Chappell Music also ran a profitable orchestration division for Broadway musicals, with house arrangers of the caliber of Robert Russell Bennett
Robert Russell Bennett
Robert Russell Bennett was an American composer and arranger, best known for his orchestration of many well-known Broadway and Hollywood musicals by other composers such as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Richard Rodgers. In 1957 and 2008, Bennett received Tony Awards...

, Don Walker
Don Walker (orchestrator)
Don Walker was a prolific Broadway orchestrator, who also composed music for musicals and one film and worked as a conductor in television.-Biography:...

, Ted Royal
Ted Royal
Ted Royal [Dewar] was an American orchestrator, conductor and composer for Broadway theatre. He was most active in the 1940s and 50s, being associated with the very successful original productions of Lerner and Loewe's Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon...

 and Hans Spialek. Between them they had orchestrated 90 percent of the productions seen up to the war years.

Reissues

WMG's Rhino Entertainment
Rhino Entertainment
Rhino Entertainment Company is an American specialty record label and production company. It is owned by Warner Music Group.-History:Rhino was originally a novelty song and reissue company during the 1970s and 1980s, releasing compilation albums of pop, rock & roll, and rhythm & blues successes...

 reissues recordings from the WMG vaults and their aforementioned Rhino Handmade sublabel issues limited edition albums of lesser known and cult status recordings from the WMG vaults.

Controversy

In December 2008, negotiations between WMG and YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

 broke down. As a result, Warner Music Group has continuously blocked or muted videos on YouTube that feature music recordings belonging to its labels or to its publishing arm, Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. is an American music publishing company, and a division of the Warner Music Group. The company traces its origins back to 1811 and the founding of Chappell & Company, a music publishing company and instrument shop on London’s Bond Street that, in 1929, began a rapid...

, citing copyright infringement but many weren't even signed with WMG. Although the majority of the blocked videos are not official content of WMG, they include WMG recordings in a minor way normally covered by Fair Use
Fair use
Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders...

. Many of these claims to copyright violation not only affect artists who are under record labels owned or distributed by WMG, but also to artists who have songs published and controlled by Warner/Chappell, regardless of label. This makes the association between non-WMG artists and WMG much less apparent to YouTube users as music publishers, unlike record labels, generally do not brand themselves to their recordings. Muting also occurred to clips featuring people covering a song by a WMG artist or of a song controlled by Warner/Chappell. The response from YouTube users on affected videos has been overwhelmingly negative towards WMG. Notably, Seattle band Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie is an American alternative rock band formed in Bellingham, Washington in 1997. The band consists of Ben Gibbard , Chris Walla , Nick Harmer and Jason McGerr ....

 was affected when music videos streamed on their website from their Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

 albums Plans
Plans (album)
Plans has received positive reviews. On the review aggregate site Metacritic, the album has a score of 66 out of 100, indicating "Generally favorable reviews."-Track listing:-Personnel:*Ben Gibbard – vocals, guitars...

and Narrow Stairs
Narrow Stairs
Narrow Stairs is the sixth studio album by indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie. It was released on May 12, 2008, in the United Kingdom and on May 13, 2008, in the United States. The first single of the album was "I Will Possess Your Heart", released on March 18, 2008. The second single was...

were removed by WMG. The issue and opinion of WMG has since worsened when they began removing and muting songs that are covers rather than just recordings.

With the rise of music video game
Music video game
A music video game, also commonly known as a music game, is a video game where the gameplay is meaningfully and often almost entirely oriented around the player's interactions with a musical score or individual songs...

s, CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. complained that "The amount being paid to the music industry, even though [these] games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control, is far too small", and he concluded that "we will not license to those games." However, if they found new and better ways to promote music and new ways to make profit, this would not be a problem. A Wired
Wired (magazine)
Wired is a full-color monthly American magazine and on-line periodical, published since January 1993, that reports on how new and developing technology affects culture, the economy, and politics...

magazine article claimed that Rock Band
Rock Band
Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and Electronic Arts. It is the first title in the Rock Band series. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were released in the United States on November 20, 2007, while the PlayStation 2 version was...

publisher MTV Games has boycotted WMG as a result, but both parties have claimed this to be untrue. WMG has not made any new content deals with MTV Games since August 2008. This had led to a backlash against WMG by fans of these games.

Many anti-Warner videos have appeared on YouTube from users due to outrage over their videos being blocked, muted or removed by WMG. There have been provisions by some YouTube users to boycott and sometimes ban any material exhibited on YouTube specifically by Warner Music Group, as well as former owners Time Warner and Warner Bros. In some videos that have music playing in the background, YouTube users intentionally make loud noises or speak very loudly so the music in the background cannot be heard, and therefore WMG has less grounds to mute on. Online rallies, protests and organizations have been formed against WMG, and on multiple occasions YouTube users have hosted online petitions demanding that Warner Music Group permanently withdraw its control and censorships from YouTube.

On September 21, 2009, CNET reported that Warner Music Group had possibly struck a new deal with YouTube and WMG videos may start appearing back on YouTube within weeks. It was confirmed on Warner Music Group News and the YouTube Blog on September 29, 2009 that YouTube and Warner Music Group were in a multi-year deal with the two. In January 2010, there have been new reports of YouTube accounts containing covered songs completely closed due to intervention by WMG. This following a contest by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk, hip hop and psychedelic rock...

 bass player Michael "Flea" Balzary
Flea (musician)
Michael Peter Balzary , better known by his stage name Flea, is an Australian-American musician and occasional actor. He is best known as the bassist, co-founding member, and one of the composers of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers...

 to cover their songs. An end solution seems not to have been found as of January 26, 2010.

In February 2010, CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. said that Warner Music Group will stop licensing its songs to free music streaming services. He said that the focus will be on services that require payment. However, this has only created an increase of the corporation's boycott.

See also

  • List of record labels
  • List of Warner Music Group artists
  • Time Warner Cable
    Time Warner Cable
    Time Warner Cable is an American cable television company that operates in 28 states and has 31 operating divisions...

     and AOL
    AOL
    AOL Inc. is an American global Internet services and media company. AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway in New York. Founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation, it has franchised its services to companies in several nations around the world or set up international versions of its services...

     – other former TW subsidiaries recently spun-off

External links

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